Tribune News Service
Amritsar, March 1
Former Punjab minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has questioned the Centre’s roadmap for extending the benefits to the poor under the Food Security Act and streamlining the functioning of the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
In a tweet, he insisted that the regular surveys and updating the data of poor strata has to be made on the lines of what was being done in case of updating the voters’ list annually.
The Centre government had set up a High-Level Committee (HLC) in August 2014 with Shanta Kumar as the Chairman, six members and a special invitee to suggest restructuring or unbundling of FCI with a view to improve its operational efficiency and financial management.
National Food Security Act recommended that 67 per cent people could be considered under below poverty line (BPL) and should be given benefits of subsidised essential grains under PDS (public distribution system).
In a separate video message, the lawmaker has raised finger over the validity in the Shanta Kumar committee that had recommended decreasing of BPL covered under the Food Security Act from 67 per cent to 40 per cent in 2015.
He emphasised that the government’s priority should be to know about the ‘genuine poor’ rather than arbitrarily decreasing the number of poor. The last survey conducted in 2011 was the basis of Shanta Kumar panel’s observations whereas the population kept on increasing in due course.
A decade ago, the total population was counted to be nearly 120 crore. This implied that around 80 crore were considered under the BPL strata. “With the passage of time, the population tends to increase and consequently the number of genuine poor too have increased from 80 crore to 90 crore today, but they were never counted in the absence of fresh survey,” he said.
He said that the genuineness of last man standing in the queue has to be ascertained under the good governance “It was not necessary that a BPL card holder standing as the last man in the queue deserved the benefit. Similarly, the genuine poor could have been left out and was devoid of the requisite BPL card,” he said.
‘Punjab government should find solution to farm crisis’
On farmers’ cause, Sidhu said the Punjab government should legislate against the farm laws that could neutralised the three contentious farm laws enacted by the Centre. He also showed uncertainty if the Punjab Governor could help achieve this goal.
“The road to Delhi via The Governor Pb is shrouded with uncertainty ..... what is certain is the democratic power given to us by the people - the authority to legislate .... let us use this power to safeguard our Farmers , take our destiny in our hands !........ The Punjab Vidhan sabha must rise to the occasion and be part of the solution.....”
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